From the Sublime to the Ridiculous
The Heritage of the Holiness Movement
“My loved ones, do not put your faith in every spirit, but put them to the test, to see if they are from God: because a great number of false prophets have gone out into the world”. 1 John 4-1
“The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself”. – Sir Richard Francis Burton (1820-1890)
In our last Report we stated that Charismaticism has been correctly defined as a system of belief which places a very heavy emphasis on the ethereal and the experiential and not only so, but emotions and feelings also play a very prominent role in Charismatic services. A distasteful and shocking reality is that the present day Charismatic Movement has its roots in Humanism, Existentialism and Mysticism. In this report I want to expand on those roots.
Charles Pinnock wrote:
“Experience alone is too flimsy a base on which to rest the Christian system. The mere fact that a psychological event has taken place in one’s brain cannot establish the truthfulness of the gospel. Religious sensation by itself can only prove itself. However unique an experience may be, it is capable of a number of radically different interpretations. It may only be an encounter with one’s subconscious. Those who place all their emphasis on a subjective validating process eventually reduce the content of revelation and fit it to their taste. The central thing becomes that which comes across to me, rather than what God has done or spoken. The reason some theologians favour the use of drugs to heighten religious perception is patent. Whenever the existential cart is put before the historical horse, theology becomes a synthesis of human superstitions, and putting LSD into communion wine is fair play!” (Charles Pinnock – “Set Forth Your Case” Chicago: Moody1967, pgs 69-70)
Humanism’s foundational ethos is that human beings have unlimited potential. It is not a huge step from this self centred philosophy to suggest that as beings made in the image of God we have, therefore, god-like potential. You won’t hear it expressed that way in Charismatic churches however, because that would be a dead give away. You are more likely to hear the very same affirmation in terms such as “Realise your potential in God”, “God wants you to be all you can be”, “Understand your limitless potential in Christ” and so on. Humanism is the philosophy that focuses on the centrality of self. It matters not whether the humanist message is preached in a soap opera, in a New Age bookstore or a pulpit; it is the same stinking dog. Contrary to Humanism, the Word of God teaches that we are a fallen creation incapable of anything lest God allows it.
“I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (Emphasis mine)
In an age of selfishness and societal isolation, Humanism and humanistic concepts are quite appealing, even within the walls of the professing Christian Church. Humanism is a close cousin of existentialism which is the philosophy that also focuses on human existence and the centrality of human choice, again the focus is on self. To both the humanist and the existentialist all truth is relative and the final authority rests within the self. Most professing believers would baulk at the suggestion that final authority rests with them and not the Heavenly Father, however, add the subjective experiences, feelings, emotions, visions, claimed imparted wisdoms and so-called prophesies and that is precisely what you have; final authority resting in the experience of the self rather than the Word of God.
Forbidden to the descendents of Abraham, the ancient Canaanite worship of Baal also focussed on psychological relatedness and subjective experience. The transcendence of the deity was overcome in the ecstasy of feeling. Theirs was a form of worship which was reduced to the stature of the worshipper. Simply put, the existence of the deity was justified not through Holy writ, but solely according to the sensations experienced by the worshipper. Very much like the current wave of seeker sensitivity in the professing Christian Church, Baalism insisted on worship that was to be interesting, relevant and exciting. Can you see the wholesale appeal to the flesh? Can you see the stark similarity of both Baalism and the seeker sensitive model? The grave danger in seeking experience over canon is that the inerrancy of the Word of God is subjugated to the subjective experience of the flesh. In the field of psychology this subjectivity is referred to as ‘Qualia’ which simply means: ‘the way things seem to us’.
Again Charles Pinnock observes...
“The new theologian abandons confidence in the intellectual and historical content of the Christian message and places his trust in a subjective, man-centred experience which is indistinguishable from gastric upset”. (Charles Pinnock – “Set Forth Your Case” Chicago: Moody1967, pg 73)
It should be evident to the genuine child of God that ‘experiences’ can have a myriad of sources; psychological, physiological and even demonic. The test should never be ‘how does it feel to me,’ but how does it square with the Word of God? Remember Sola Scriptura: The Word of God is final authority not man centric emotionalism masquerading as spirituality.
Which brings us to the third root of the Charismatic movement - Mysticism. Essentially Mysticism is the idea that theology can grow out of experience.
By definition, (according the Encyclopaedia Britannica) ‘mysticism’ is the ‘Spiritual quest for union with the divine’.
The Concise Oxford English Dictionary renders the word: ‘the vague or ill-defined religious or spiritual belief, especially as associated with a belief in the occult’.
I speak not with malice as some insist, but as one delivered from its seductive grip when I affirm that ‘Vague or ill defined spiritual belief’ best defines the Charismatic ‘experience’. It is not the fact but the assumption of Charismatic’s the world over that the Holy Spirit is doing a ‘new thing’ in the earth which has lead them as a collective from one theological monstrosity to another. They reason that just as God’s ways and thoughts are not like ours, so too these experiences can neither be adequately understood nor explained, therefore they are received on faith with the assumption they are from God. This is subjective theology at its very worst and exposes practitioners and partakers alike to very grave danger and absolute deception. Following after the delusion of Montanis (a second century heretic from Phrygia) Charismatic’s, particularly those of the Pentecostal strain, are now so theologically steeped in doctrinal error that they can largely no longer discern true doctrine from false. With credit due to the wolves within, the standard of the Word by which all things must be measured has been supplanted by the subjectivity of fleshy assumption and experience, and as a consequence has led them collectively astray.
The heretic Montanis believed he was a prophet sent by God to reform Christianity through asceticism (that is the practice of the denial of physical or psychological desires in order to attain a spiritual ideal or goal), the practice of glossolalia (that is, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, utterances approximating words and speech that are nonetheless generally unintelligible, usually produced during states of trance or delirium) and ongoing ‘prophetic’ revelation. Montanis, who believed all of his teachings were inspired by the Holy Spirit, was aided and abetted in his delusions by two women who also claimed prophetic office. Of these two women Bishop of Caesarea Eusebius wrote...
”He [Montanis] stirred up two women and filled them with the bastard spirit so that they uttered demented, absurd and irresponsible sayings”. Some historians have taken that to mean ‘speaking in tongues’.
You will remember from our last report that it was a woman who first claimed to have spoken in tongues in Topeka, Kansas U.S.A in 1901, giving birth to the Pentecostal movement. This is not an insignificant observation when one bears in mind why women are to be silent in church. The Apostle Paul explained that this was because of Eve’s fall in the Garden and of the propensity of her daughters to be spiritually deceived.
Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I don't permit a woman to teach, nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. Adam wasn't deceived, but the woman, being deceived, has fallen into disobedience; 1 Timothy 2:11-14 (Emphasis mine)
Member of the first century church in Rome, Hippolytus wrote of the Montanists...
“They have been deceived by two females, Priscilla and Maximilla by name, whom they hold to be prophetesses, asserting that into them the Paraclete spirit entered. They magnify these females above the Apostles and every gift of Grace, so that some of them go so far as to say that in them there is something more than Christ. They introduce novelties in the form of fasts and feasts, abstinences and diets of radishes, giving these females as their authority1.”
It was objectively observed by 2nd century church leaders and members that far from being manifestations of the Apostolic gifts of the Holy Spirit, Montanis and his deluded followers had in fact embraced demonic doctrine and manifested such in their strange behaviours.
Hippolytus further observed...
“Montanis, they say, first exposed himself to the assaults of the adversary through his unbounded lust for leadership2.He was one of the recent converts, and he became possessed of a spirit, and suddenly began to rave in a kind of ecstatic trance, and to babble jargon, prophesying in a manner contrary to the custom of the church which had been handed down by tradition from the earliest times. Some of them that heard his bastard utterances rebuked him as one possessed of a devil remembering the Lord’s warning to guard vigilantly against the coming of false prophets. But others were carried away and not a little elated, thinking themselves possessed of the Holy Spirit and the gift of prophesy”3.
Montanis and his followers were declared heretics in 177 AD and excommunicated from the church. The movement he began all but died out by the 5th century but managed to survive in small sects up until about the 9th Century AD before apparently fading away altogether. That was until January 1, 1901 when Charles Fox Parham and Agnes Ozman ushered in its revival.
That the Charismatic movement has its foundation in doctrinal error is evident. That it continues to thrive in a licentious, self absorbed and godless world is hardly surprising. That its scripturally baseless influence is so far reaching is absolutely tragic.
In our next Report we will examine what took place in the early church and compare it with the apostate one of this century, one that mistakenly believes it is in the midst of revival. What will be revealed will astound you!
I Remain Yours
In His Everlasting Embrace
Moriah Ministries Australia
1. “Documents of the Christian Church” – (London: Oxford, 1963) pg. 77
2. The unrepentant striving for power, prestige and influence are quite characteristic of those involved in the Charismatic movement and a far cry from the abased individual humility insisted by the Scriptures. Their [Charismatic] incessant and pestiferous chest beating about ‘impacting society’, ‘influencing’ all in sundry and ‘taking the world by storm’ are dead giveaways of the movement’s Montanist origins.
3. “Documents of the Christian Church” – (London: Oxford, 1963) pg. 78